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We Will Miss GP (July 10, 2002)

Fort Bragg will miss GP because their money is good. If you know the timber industry history of landowners not getting paid for logs; millworkers, loggers, or truckers not being paid for work, then you know how important it is having somebody around who pays and pays on time. That check that comes from corporate USA is the linchpin of any producer based community.

GP's sin, if you want to call it that, was a lack of commitment to forestry. A failure to embrace the long term reality of growing trees — the same sin committed by their environmentalist foes. The notion that trees are a “renewable resource” is the flip side of the same coin as the notion that forests are a precious “natural” resource that must be “protected” from the hand of man. Of course the reality is trees are not a resource but a crop that must be nurtured. And the stately forests the environmentalists worship in are not a creation of “nature” but a creation of the hand of man that over time must be maintained by the hand of man as well.

It is not only the same sin committed by the Environmentalist public, but also most all other forest landowners big and small including the Johnson family who owned Union Lumber Company, and Boise-Cascade who bought Union Lumber and who sold to GP, and LP which emerged from a court-ordered GP split. Not everybody is cut out to be in the cognac business. The notion of an investment horizon of a minimum of 30 years doesn't sit well with most everybody. It's an investment made in faith. Forest economists can display all the charts and graphs they want but the bottom line is forestry investments are risky and are not based on anything concrete. Just the faith that timber will have value in the future. Was GP's “sin” really so bad?

With the largest softwood forest “resource” in the world being made available in Siberia, and with places like New Zealand, Chile, and Europe churning out tremendous volumes of plantation grown timber, there is an international glut of softwood timber that will be with us into the foreseeable future. Of course there is Canada's timber wealth, and our own US Forest Service inventory that will be made available again when we get over our environmentalist constipations.

Today the future of Mendocino County's timber industry is not threatened by a lack of high quality old growth but a glut of low cost, small timber coming from places that are insulated from the costly nebulous nonsense of environmentalist regulations. And redwood is being replaced with low cost plastic substitutes with names like TREX. Redwood, even the high quality stuff, is having trouble moving. Steel framing is also becoming ever more affordable and preferred instead of wood.

But the timber industry has themes that have run throughout it's history and one of those themes is that there is no future. It is the mentality of a miner. It is the mentality of most of us who just can't deal with the time involved. 

Look at a redwood tree reaching its prime today. It started just before the 1929 crash. It lived through the Great Depression, WWII, the Cold War, the Baby Boom, etc. How many times in that tree’s history did the owners of that tree say there was no future and sold that tree or gave that tree away?

In California even the timber growers with the cognac business mindset are starting to wonder. Environmentalist regulations have even people from Simpson Timber, Soper Wheeler, and Barnum Timber wondering if there is a future for timber in California. California and America will survive environmentalism's earth worshipping. We have to. We place the highest value on human life, not the lives of birds, rodents, or reptiles. We can not go into the future with a de facto policy that our energy, raw materials, and food will all be imported. And ultimately science wins over BS. That redwood tree that is starting to grow today will live through many changes as did the ones being cut today.

In the next 70 years we will see oil as an energy source and as a raw material being replaced with other things. What other things? I don't know. And who does? But wood fiber looms in the wings. TREX? If you have any 70 years from now you had better hang on to it as a collectors item. Steel? When the cost of energy goes up, so does the cost of steel. GP, LP, and Masonite will be long gone, having made the fatal mistake of trying to be in the timber industry with no timber of their own. Mendocino County (and Humboldt County as well) have the best softwood timber growing sites in the world. That fact is not going to go away. Too many parks? My guess is we will be logging in parks 70 years from now. It makes no sense not to. For timber growers with a cognac business mindset, things should look good for the future of the timber industry in Mendocino County.

2 Comments

  1. George Hollister August 29, 2021

    I forgot this ran in the AVA back then. Thanks for reprinting it. Interesting how nothing has changed.

  2. Mark Laszlo August 30, 2021

    The 1st point; that GP paid reliably, is to their honor, but
    i think their industry has practically run it’s course past justification to provide for human needs, like the whaling industry. So our redwoods should be called botanic whales, cherished and protected with the same zeal as
    those bigger brained, articulate, altruistic animals. We have as fine machine oil and fuel from annual cannabis hemp seed as we took from whales. We do not have a substitute for old growth trees that do more than any living beings to make life possible for other living beings, but we have economic substitutes for all wood products.

    I’m fine with valuing human life over birds, rodents and
    reptiles, on an individual basis, but in the big picture, i
    think it’s a false distinction.

    The holocaust of species is a peril to all humans many ignore or dismiss, but as empirical proofs of a dying biosphere pile up – Like salmon recently boiled alive in Canada, as hundreds of humans there died from heatstroke! – the general effect of other species on us humans, even of invertebrates and microbes, is to make Earth habitable to us. Each species has it’s niche that balances biosphere conditions generally for the habitability of all species. The more holes we rip in the tapestry of life, extincting humble creatures all the time w/o even noticing it, the sooner it rips from bottom to top irreparably and we fall from our own niche to extinction, with all our victim species.
    Of trees, 2 distinctions cannot be glossed over: Old growth vs. younger trees and vast, unfragmented wild
    habitat vs the filthy rags we make of it. Only old
    growth and unfragmented forests support the full
    cast of species that have co-evolved in them.

    Humans need lumber, but most “cognac” wood products can be replaced with annual cannabis hemp fiber grown on American plains. JFK’s plywood PT boat was easily sunk by the Japanese, but Henry Ford’s cannabis hemp
    car body could not be cut with an axe.

    To merely say our forests have always been managed by humans, is to gloss over the fact that management did not include cutting them down, until nature-alienated people found them, who miss their truest value to us, of
    making life possible for us, if we would only take the wood we absolutely need.

    A false equivalence is implied here, as dissembled by Mike Jani, MRC’s field marshall in MRC’s war against nature. When ever he mentions the idea of healthy, well managed forests, he means well managed for wood production, but poisoning the most acres in our county with herbicides for a monocultured operation is not healthy for most of the species that belong there.

    Humans’ need to work and be paid can’t be dismissed, but the distinction between employment by lumber cos and lack of jobs is false as soon as employees are trained and hired in sustainable trades, that in a “cognac” view, large scale logging is not.

    In our dying world, a fatal philosophic flaw of modern civilization is to make money the object of life. We are
    still caught up in it’s traps by which those who have more than they need hasten to practically complete extraction of all the wealth of those who have less. As a rule, it’s those who make the rules of the capitalist system who make all trades, including agriculture, a tedious treadmill of debt, for all but themselves. Is our civilization wise,
    set up to miss the joys of our trades, set up to miss family security and secure retirements, on that treadmill, for a
    slim chance to lord over those who can’t escape it?

    A wise civilization would prioritize happiness, an even field where most people can afford land and live from
    it’s bounty w/o gnawing worry about making payments.

    A wise civilization would prioritize OXYGEN, PURE AIR AND PURE WATER OVER MONEY.

    Our animal whales are probably more intelligent and
    wise than us some ways we don’t know yet because
    in those ways we are retarded by comparison and have only begun to talk with them. Koko, the gentle genius gorilla who signed said to cause global warming is “stupid”. That’s right. A gentle gorilla knowing English sign language called us stupid!

    Now, via scientific consensus, based on overwhelming evidence via the UN, that can be trusted to tell the
    truth of it, everyone paying attention knows that in
    decades or centuries, humans could be extinct by the greed of psychopaths who run the world for their
    profit.

    If we had a wise civilization, we would not see dollars in trees, but oxygen, carbon capture, moisture retention and
    biodiverse habitat, especially in old growth. It’s old growth that can resist fires and do all those things like nothing else. To invent technologic solutions is good, but it would be wise to cherish and conserve what we were given by God. Atheists can find another word, such as “life”. Just cherish and take care of nature. It is superior to us. To make war on it is suicide and that is exactly what our civilization does.

    We need to organize an economy with conditions for a big middle class to live again, that Benjamin Franklin fostered, leading America to maximum general
    prosperity, not one that allows the richest to avoid all taxes to delimit their wealth and throw the salt of the Earth out on the streets. Lumber is not Mendo’s only natural economic resource. We are yet endowed with other great bounties of nature we don’t have to ruin our environment to prosper by.

    Aquaint yourself with the UN report on climate change. Imagine what they say happening on the timescale they
    predict, if you ever need a laxative.

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